Freel's Rehab Delayed

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Utility Player Frustrated After Doctors Refuse To Clear Him

April 29, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Ryan Freel's seemingly ill-fated Orioles career took another hit when he unhappily returned to Baltimore from the Eastern Shore after club doctors refused to clear him for a rehabilitation assignment at Single-A Delmarva.

Freel, who was hit in the head with a pickoff attempt against the Boston Red Sox on April 20 and was placed on the 15-day disabled list against his wishes with a nonconcussed head injury, was supposed to play at least three games with the Shorebirds.

But when he arrived, he was directed to take an impact test, a cognitive memory and concentration exam often given in post-concussion cases. Freel, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, said he was unprepared for the test, which was administered in a room where he was continually interrupted.

After Shorebirds batting practice, club physician William Goldiner told Freel he would not be cleared to play because of the results.

"I wasn't very happy about it, not at all, and there's a lot more stuff going on here than anybody else understands. But it is what it is," Freel said. "We've got good chemistry on this team, and I'm not going to sit here and try to bring the clubhouse down and the organization down. But I'm not very happy at all with what happened."

Freel met with club president Andy MacPhail on Tuesday afternoon, and MacPhail said he understands Freel's complaints.

"He expressed some frustration, which I was somewhat sympathetic to," MacPhail said. "I don't blame him for feeling blindsided. We should've had the test done here as opposed to done there. I just happen to agree with him."

Freel also is dissatisfied with his diminished role. Traded from the Cincinnati Reds this offseason in the Ramon Hernandez deal, Freel was targeted to be a platoon left fielder and primary utility man. But the Orioles signed Ty Wigginton to play multiple positions and dealt for Felix Pie, who was given the left-field job.

Before the injury, Freel had two hits in 15 at-bats after hitting .216 in 74 at-bats in the spring.

"I was thrilled to death to be coming over here. I know they signed Pie and Wigginton, and I know that, considering my spring training ... it really hurt me and my playing time," he said. "But I am definitely not as happy as I was when I first came here."

He stopped short of demanding a trade or release but said: "I still believe in change. I don't think I fit here."

Said MacPhail: "It never bothers me in the slightest when a guy wants to play. I think it's a good thing."

For now, Freel is expected to report to Double-A Bowie on Friday to start his new rehab assignment.

Mora returns

Third baseman Melvin Mora (left hamstring strain) was supposed to play one rehab game at Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday to test his leg before being activated Friday. But he said traffic to the airport Tuesday morning was snarled and he wouldn't have made the game in Norfolk on time. So he called Orioles manager Dave Trembley.

"That's why I went to Trembley and said: 'I was ready to go over. I only go over there to take two at-bats, so I'm ready to take them here.' "

Mora delivered RBI singles in his first two at-bats Tuesday.

Albers demoted

To make room for Mora, the Orioles sent reliever Matt Albers to Norfolk. Albers, who missed time last year with a shoulder injury, allowed 13 hits and five runs in 8 2/3 innings.

"His arm is fine; his shoulder is fine," Trembley said. "Him going down to Triple-A has nothing to do with him physically. ... He has not been as effective as he was."

Around the horn

About 40 friends and family members of former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, the Williamsport High alumnus who was killed in a car accident this month, were at the game Tuesday. His father, Jim, was scheduled to throw out the first pitch but changed his mind. ... With a single in the first inning, right fielder Nick Markakis extended his hitting streak to 15 games.

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